Crimson Tide


Crimson Tide

Critics Consensus

Boasting taut, high energy thrills and some cracking dialogue courtesy of an uncredited Quentin Tarantino, Crimson Tide finds director Tony Scott near the top of his action game.



Total Count: 48


Audience Score

User Ratings: 61,246
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Movie Info

Two leaders with different philosophies about battle and leadership wage war with each other in this tense military thriller. Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) is the commanding officer of a nuclear submarine, the U.S.S. Alabama. Ramsey is a distinguished veteran near the end of his career, and he leads his men with an iron hand; as he puts it, "We're here to preserve democracy, not to practice it." Ramsey is assigned a new second-in-command, Lt. Cmmdr. Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington); Hunter is much younger than Ramsey, Harvard educated, and believes the goal of the military in the nuclear age is to prevent war, not fight it. While at sea, word reaches the Alabama that a splinter group of Russian forces have seized missile silos, and the ship is put on red alert. The Alabama has orders to fire, but as it is receiving a new incoming order the radio malfunctions. It's Ramsey's contention that an order is an order and they are to move forward with the attack, while Hunter feels if there is any question at all about their mission, they should wait until they can receive further instruction, with Hunter going so far as to threaten mutiny against Ramsey if the missile strike is carried out. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Towne both contributed to the screenplay without credit. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Denzel Washington
as Lt. Cdr. Ron Hunter
Gene Hackman
as Capt. Frank Ramsey
Viggo Mortensen
as Lt. Peter Ince
James Gandolfini
as Lt. Bobby Dougherty
Matt Craven
as Lt. Roy Zimmer
Lillo Brancato Jr.
as Russell Vossler
Rocky Carroll
as Lt. Darik Westergaurd
Jaime Gómez
as Officer of the Deck Mahoney
Michael Milhoan
as Hunsicker
Scott Burkholder
as T.S.O. Billy Linkletter
Danny Nucci
as Danny Rivetti
Eric Bruskotter
as Bennefield
Rick Schroder
as Paul Hellerman
Steve Zahn
as William Barnes
RJ Knoll
as Marty Sotille
Billy Devlin
as Navigator
Matt Barry
as Planesman
Jim Boyce
as Diving Officer
Jacob Vargas
as Sonarman
Kai Lennox
as Sonarman
Tommy Bush
as Admiral Williams
Earl Billings
as Rick Marichek
Michael Chieffo
as Chief Kline
Ashley Smock
as Guard No. 1
James Lesure
as Guard No. 2
Dennis Garber
as Fire Control Technician
Daniel von Bargen
as Vladimir Radchenko
Richard Valeriani
as Richard Valeriani
Warren Olney
as Anchorman
Rad Daly
as Lt. Commander Nelson
Sean O'Bryan
as Phone Talker No. 1
Brent Michael Goldberg
as Phone Talker No. 2
Victor Togunde
as Sailor With Oba
Armand Watson
as Seaman Davis
Scott Grimes
as Petty Officer Hilaire
Ryan Phillippe
as Seaman Grattam
Dale Andre Lee Everett
as Firing Key Runner
Angela Tortu
as Ramsey Aide
Ronald Ramessar
as Westergaurd Dad
Robin Faraday
as Westergaurd Mom
Henry Mortensen
as Henry Ince
Bob Stone
as Bob The Magician
Chris Ellis
as Additional Magician
Jason Robards
as Rear Admiral Anderson, Board of Inquiry President
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Critic Reviews for Crimson Tide

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12)

  • This is a boy's movie all the way.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The screenplay may be credited to Michael Schiffer, but the punchy dialogue has Quentin Tarantino written all over it. The cast has a ball.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Isn't there something awfully satisfying about the throbbing missiles and cathartic explosions that constitute this film's main excitement? Maybe so, but nothing else here delivers a comparable thrill.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/4
  • Crimson Tide has everything you could want from an action thriller and a few other things you usually can't hope to expect.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Nope, this picture doesn't bear thinking about, but, if you resist that nasty temptation, setting all your mental gauges at Dead Slow, the flow of the action will see you through.

    Apr 12, 2002 | Full Review…
  • If ever a picture crackled, Crimson Tide fits the description.

    Feb 13, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Crimson Tide

  • Jul 25, 2014
    The scenario that puts the plot in motion and the plot itself might be a little too ridiculous but I can't argue with how well tension is mined from the ever changing mutinies, counter mutinies, and counter-counter mutinies. One of Tony Scott's more effective efforts.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2012
    This is Denzel Washington at his "Denzeliest" his Lt. Cmmdr. Ron Hunter is cool, intense, confident and commands the screen every moment he's on it. Gene Hackman is perfect as the adversary, the arrogant and mildly racist Capt. Frank Ramsey. Crimson Tide is all about power, balls and submarines and the cast together with Director Tony Scotts flashy style makes for a great and classic sea drama.
    Jasen L Super Reviewer
  • Sep 19, 2012
    Where would we all be without the good US of A to save the world at the drop of a hat huh. This time its the proud US Navy that gets to show us their stuff and stop those pesky Russians once again, darn pesky Russians. A Bruckheimer/Simpson production and boy can you tell, a veritable feast for the eyes with the standard graphic novel-like adaptation imagery that looks glossy, sharp and always exciting (with the assistance of some guy called Michael Bay). All together these three guys created some memorable action flicks that really are the true meaning of blockbuster. 'Crimson Tide' is no exception, well maybe one small exception, and that's the fact this film is probably the most sensible, realistic action flick they've created. Now if you will, this is my little videogame analogy of these flicks. Most of the Bruckheimer/Simpson flicks are what I would call 'arcade' type action flicks, they're big, loud, flashy and give plenty of bang for your buck. 'Crimson Tide' is more of a 'simulator' action flick in the simple fact its more realistic with deeper tension. This of course would be down to the brilliant direction of Ba...errr Scott who knows his way around a good looking military action flick. So in short the visuals here are crisp, smoky and sweat inducing in nice shades of green, blue and red. Life aboard a sub has been created seriously well and you really get that tight feeling as the camera peers down steel tubes and stairwells. Despite the fact almost the entire film takes place in the sub you never once lose interest as we go from action stations against Russian subs to one mutiny after another as Washington faces off against Hackman. This of course leads me to the cast which is really superb here. Even the small fry roles played by small fry character actors are decent. The big guns naturally fire on all cylinders, Hackman is pretty intimidating as the sub Captain whilst Washington easily gains your support as the 'good guy' of sorts. Supporting roles are also solid with Gandolfini in his usual slightly nasty persona, the guy who likes to make his presence known, and Mortensen as the guy torn between his captain and friend. Nice early build up into the film as we gather the crew and see what each are like. There isn't too much in special effects either as most of the action is simply viewing the crew and sub innards as each suspenseful situation looms, kicks off and passes. Brave move that pays off as you would expect lots of fancy CGI sequences. Finally a stirring moving bold musical score to really bring home the seriousness and heroism of the story...less you forget this is an AMERICAN military thriller damn it!! So end of the day yes you know how it will all end, pretty obvious of course. You know which man will stand tall and victorious by the end credits. You know there will be a change of character by the loser and you know there's bound to be a scene where men get trapped in the bowels of the sub and must be sacrificed to save the rest of the crew. Many typical scenes where the crew must decide who is in charge and if they're doing it the right way, the Navy way, the American way...cue rousing musical score and close ups of sweaty stern jawed faces. I like to think of this as Scott's grown up follow up to 'Top Gun' (had to mention it). All the hallmarks of a slick military action flick but much more sensible without 80's pop music and male posing. I saw this opening night at the cinema (ye olde 'Warner Village' cinema's) back when I was a young teen and liked it, I still like it now, what more can I say!?.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 18, 2012
    That's right, the USS "Alabama"; roll tide, y'all! Actually, I am in no way a sports fan, though I certainly know enough about football to you people that if I'm gonna be on anyone's side, in terms of sports, then I'm sure proud to be an Alabamian. I love how I shamelessly boast Alabama's great football-playing abilities, as if I'm credibly reinforcing my stance that Alabama's not being full of useless, ignorant rednecks by emphasizing that hardly anyone is better than us at throwing stuff and bashing into each other. Hey, as much as I hate us Alabamian's being stereotyped, at least our stereotypes are consistent, because if Quentin Tarantino is supposed to be a reflection of Tennessee, I don't know if they're actively offensive, a tiny bit ghetto, film buffy, big Japanese-stuff geeks, or crazy, self-abusing dare devils with an immature, but still admittedly funny sense of humor, if Johnny Knoxville is supposed to be Tennessee's testament. I actually have a Tennessee-born friend who's into just about all the stuff Tarantino's in to, so I'm going to have to guess that ol' Quentin's the big stereotype here, though I can at least tell you that Tennessee is certainly not big in the submarine industry, because Mr. Tarantino is getting no love in the writing credits. Now that is quite the shame, because if snappy dialogue writing is another potential Tennessee stereotype, then I'm all the way behind them actively offensive, ghetto, film buffy, Japanese-stuff geek self-abusers. Still, neither Tarantino's underappreciated contributions nor the other sharp stuff in this film can completely blow the missteps out of the water. As much as I give Ridley Scott trash for keeping his films just too quiet and dull, there are points in this film where I wish his brother, Tony, would just turn down the music. Don't get me wrong, I can never get enough Hans Zimmer, yet the way Tony Scott manipulates it leaves a deal of should-be quiet scenes to overbear, though not as much as the sentimental scenes, which are rare, but when they snap on, oh man does Scott pump it full of sap with his misuse of the great Hans Zimmer's work. Still, contrary to how I make it sound, the film quiet itself down, yet there's still too much freneticism in the air during plenty of those quiet moments, making the exposition and resonance within them to fall a touch limp, to a certain degree, while further diluting the film's level of intelligence. Sure, as political as this film gets here and there, it's still somewhat of an action film about a bunch of manly men hanging out, spouting off military banter and occasionally engaging in some fairly brutal battles, so I'm not asking for Shakespeare here, though the film still touches on many intriguing pieces of subject matter that, in the hands of a more competent filmmaker - perhaps one that's experienced in effective action-dramas -, could have been prominent, though not to the point of drowning out tension. Still, as it stands, Tony lives up the Scott name by presenting us a sharp production, with talented and clever writers and performers, while still not being skilled enough (Or rather, smart enough) as director to have the film truly live up to its potential. Still, while Tony Scott is still not as competent as his still overly workmanlike, fellow director brother, I wasn't just blowing smoke when I said that he has put together quite the team. Again, his production isn't as top-notch as those found in Ridley Scott's should-be excellent films (Seriously Ridley, wake up as director, because I'm dying to actually love one of your films), but Tony Scott still knows how to assemble a crack team of talents that are just strong enough to really bring this film to surface; and yes, that was a cheesy submarine reference. Even with its moments of manipulative misuse, come on, it's still a Hans Zimmer, so of course it's still awesome. On top of just plain sounding good, Zimmer's score has a subtle sweep to it, giving the film some scope, but still plenty of intimacy with the situations within the sidelines, giving the film consequence to juice it up in various deparments, particularly the action department, during which, Zimmer isn't the only one who shines. Tony Scott is so wildly improvable as a storyteller, but as far as action goes, he really knows how to summon tension, intrigue and, yes, at times, even emotional resonance in the heat of battle, whether it be through manipulation of Dariusz Wolski's excellent cinematography or simply manipulation of atmosphere, and that really gives a lot of weight to this film, not just stylistically, but even as far as substance goes. Still, although most of the whole second half of the film is unrelenting intrigue and meditative action, weighty action still can only supplement already existing resonance, something that goes heavily diluted by Scott's all-too workmanlike, if not rather weak handling of exposition, yet never fades, because what really brings this film to life is not simply the execution of Michael Schiffer's and Richard P. Henrick's screenplay, but Schiffer's and Henrick's screenplay, itself, which sets up everything in an occasionally conventional fashion, but, on the whole, really understands its characters and situations, setting them up in a very lively and human way, with intelligence that dilutes in execution, but is still there enough to appeal. Also, props to an uncredited Quentin Tarantino for his punch-up of the dialogue, which further intensifies the human feel, as it glows with Tarantino's believable, yet ever-so entertaining and memorably machismo-rific snap, though without all the dragging that plagues the screenplays of his own films. Still, no matter how great a screenplay is, it still has to be well executed to some degree, and while Scott doesn't bring much to the table, in terms of executing the humanity and charm of the screenplay, his performers really step up, boasting crackling chemistry, charisma and individuality between them, making for a colorful cast of charmers, those ones that bring plenty more than just charm during some of the heavier moments. The problem with the film is the fact that Tony Scott is just too much of an action director, leaving the film to not as much as it really should have, yet the components behind the substance all but make up for Scott's messy execution and leave the film not as rewarding as it should be, but pretty satisfying from as much of a substance standpoint as a stylistic standpoint. In conclusion, the film's substance goes diluted by Tony Scott's unintelligent and occasionally manipulative storytelling, as well a few moments in genericism, yet the film powers on, given some pretty sharp kicks when Scott's fine taste in tense action comes into play and goes intensified by Hans Zimmer's amazing score and Dariusz Wolski's fine cinematography, which isn't to say that the substance body of the story doesn't boast enough snap, charm, wit and humanity in the screenplay and colorful performances to ultimately leave "Crimson Tide" to roll tid-I mean, roll "on" as a thoroughly entertaining and somewhat rewarding - in terms of story - blockbuster. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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